Latest Mountain Goats a ‘Hidden Treasure’
Odds are that you, or most of your friends for that matter, have not heard of The Mountain Goats despite the fact they just released their fourteenth studio album, Transcendental Youth. The indie-rock group is a hidden treasure based out of North Carolina, that have amassed a dedicated cult following around the world, including celebrities such as Stephen Colbert and New York Times bestselling author John Green.
If you want an introduction to the Goats, look no further then the title of the album. Seriously, who uses the word ‘transcendental?’ But that’s exactly what gives the Goats’ their identity in the music world. Lead vocalist John Darnielle, the only surviving original member of the band, mixes a sophisticated vocabulary with dark themes such as regret, alcoholism and domestic disputes at home.
In contrast, the music behind the words is simple. The guitars, drums and bass are all balanced with Darnielle’s voice. None of the components over power the other thus making it an enjoyable listening experience. The album, according to Darnielle in several interviews, is the “Satan record.” The lyrics deal with social and religious outcasts in society. “The loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you’re never going to see again.”
In Transcendental Youth, the Goat’s have stayed true to the sound they have come to perfect over the past twenty-one years. Whether it’s one of their faster paced songs, like “Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1,” or “Harlem Roulette,” or their more acoustic based tracks such as “White Cedar” or “Until I Am Whole,” their music is entertaining yet genuine.
One of the newer elements not seen in the Goat’s previous albums are the horn arrangements found in “Cry for Judas” and “Transcendental Youth.” This could’ve gone really bad and spoiled the album, but in the end it was successful and gave the tracks a jazzy tune that’s both fresh and fun to listen to. A more somber horn arrangement can be heard in “White Cedar” and continues to work well in giving the Goat’s a new sound to work with in future albums.
The only track not fitting in with the rest of the album is “The Diaz Brothers,” which sounds like it was recorded in the 1960’s. Not that it’s a bad song; it just doesn’t work when put together with everything else.
It’s only been a year and a half since the release of the Mountain Goat’s previous album, All Eternals Deck. Despite this fact, the album doesn’t seem rushed and gives the old fans the sound that keeps them coming back.